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At Bell and Bell Law Firm, our child custody attorneys handle many different types of custody cases in the surrounding Charlotte area.  Child custody affects a variety of people.  For example, you may be facing a custody case if you are going through a divorce, ending a relationship in which you have a child in common with another person, or you may be a family member that is concerned and you may be contemplating exploring custody options of another family member’s child that may be in danger.

At Bell and Bell Law Firm, one of our family law attorneys will be able to determine if child custody is at issue.  Please call us today at 704-992-1590 to determine your custody rights under North Carolina law.

You may have questions regarding the custody of your child.  Under North Carolina law, there are two types of custody as follows:  (1) legal custody and (2) physical custody.

(1) Legal Custody

(a) Joint Legal Custody.  Joint legal custody is when the court grants the same status to both parents and they shall have equal rights to be consulted and involved in any major and minor decisions regarding the child’s life.

For example, joint legal custody would enable both parents to decide what type of medical treatment the child may receive, where the child attends school, which friends the child associates with, how the child spends his or her vacation time, and all decisions that affect the child’s development and well-being.  Joint legal custody is the most common form of child custody.

Generally speaking, unless one parent has a significant drug addiction, mental disease, major physical problem, or is otherwise estranged or incarcerated, then most judges generally grant joint legal custody to both parents that are deemed to be fit and proper to raise a child.

(b) Sole Legal Custody.  Sole legal custody is different.  One parent has the exclusive right to all decisions regarding the child’s development and general well-being.  In some cases, a parent that is not fit to be a parent may opt to give the other parent sole legal custody.

At Bell and Bell Law Firm, our custody attorneys assist our clients in seeking sole legal custody of his or her child.  Our attorneys always attempt to reach an agreement first to avoid significant legal fees and litigation expenses.   Should no agreement be possible, then our child custody lawyers will help you obtain custody of your child by filing a lawsuit.

(2) Physical Custody

Physical custody means which parent has the right to care and exclusive control over the child.For purposes of child support, physical custody is determined  by where the child spends the night.

(a) Joint or shared physical custody.  If a child spends at least 123 overnights or more with either parent, then the court defines that the parents have a joint or shared physical custody arrangement.

For example, with a joint physical custody arrangement, it is common that both parents have equal overnights with a child.  A child will spend the night at the mother’s house on odd weeks and at the father’s house on even weeks.  In layman’s terms, this is known as “flip-flopping,” and most judges do consider this arrangement if both parents live close by and are equally involved in the child’s life.

The age of the child is a factor that is considered when a judge decides on custody.  For example, a judge may not want to flip flop an infant back and forth because it may not be in the best interest of the infant’s stability.  However, more and more judges with progressive views are being elected to the bench.  It is important to have a child custody lawyer evaluate your case to help guide you through the court system in the event that you are assigned to a judge that does not believe in your same values and beliefs.

(b)Primary physical custody.  If a parent has a child for 122 overnights or less, then that parent has primary physical custody for purposes of child support.

For example, under this arrangement, a very common arrangement is when the child lives at his or her mother’s house during the week and then visits with his or her father every other weekend.  In addition, the child generally will spend one night during the week with his or her father, split holiday time, and spend two consecutive weeks in the summer with his or her father.

The standard to determine which parent should have physical custody of a child is “the best interest of the child.”  No longer in North Carolina is there a tender years presumption that would require an infant or toddler to automatically be placed with his or her mother.

Child custody can be very complicated and very stressful.  The family law attorneys at Bell and Bell Law Firm will evaluate your case and give you an honest assessment and be able to determine which type of custody best fits the needs of your child and ultimately what works best for your demanding life schedule.

Please call Bell and Bell Law Firm today at 704-992-1590.   We handle custody cases in Mecklenburg County, Iredell County, and Lincoln County and serve the surrounding Charlotte, North Carolina area.

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